Online business directory and review community Trusted Places has relaunched and on first impressions, it’s a notable step in the right direction.

The entire site’s UI has been refreshed aiming for a much more simple and clean interface, leaving a much slicker and more welcoming impression.

picture 22 600x589 Trusted Places Gets a Revamp. Clean is the Word.

Functionality wise, the site has incorporated a number of significant new features. Users can now write reviews from anywhere on the site and Trusted Places will automatically attempt to match the review to the relevant location. As well as Facebook Connect integration, Twitter has also been incorporated into the new site, so rather than needing to visit the site you can simply tweet about your favorite (or least favorite) businesses and Trusted Places will do the rest.

Trusted Places have also introduced a referral program to speed up the registration of new businesses to the site. That’s not to say the startup’s growth has stuttered, the site’s most recent stats have shown over 920,000 unique visitors a month. Anyone referring a local business to Trusted Places will earn £50 for their efforts. In addition, any referred business that signs up for a premium account (costing £199/yr) will receive £40 worth of free advertising.

picture 23 600x348 Trusted Places Gets a Revamp. Clean is the Word.

Launched in April 06, the London based company is in one of the most competitive online niches, with the likes Yelp, Qype and not to forget Yell.com all competing for businesses advertising money. Irrespective, Trusted Places’ success so far is one for the text books as they’ve managed to show impressive growth, decent press coverage and great search rankings – all with zero spend on marketing themselves.

The company is funded with a £1 million investment from Howzat Media, the story of which is an interesting one.